Lighthouses of Japan: Sakishima Islands

Okinawa Prefecture includes the southern half of the Nansei (or Ryūkyū) Islands (Nansei-shotō or "southwest islands" in Japanese), which form an archipelago extending southwestward from Kyūshū towards Taiwan. There are two main groups of islands: the Okinawa Islands, including the principal island of Okinawa itself, and the Sakishima Islands to the southwest. This page includes lighthouses of the Sakishima Islands, and there is a separate page for the lighthouses of the Okinawa Islands.

Historically the Ryūkyū Islands were a more-or-less independent kingdom paying tribute as needed to either China or Japan or both. Japan annexed the islands in 1879 over Chinese protests; U.S. President Ulysses Grant, called in as arbitrator, ruled in favor of Japan. Following the Second World War, the islands were administered by the U.S. as the Trust Territory of the Ryūkyū Islands. In 1972, the U.S. ceded sovereignty over all of the islands back to Japan, which organized them as Okinawa Prefecture.

In Japanese, the word for a lighthouse is tōdai or toudai (灯台). The words saki and misaki are for capes and headlands, shima (also spelled sima or jima) is an island, wan is a bay, andis a harbor. Lighthouses in Japan are operated and maintained by the Japanese Coast Guard's Maritime Safety Agency.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. JCG numbers are the Japanese Coast Guard's light list numbers. Admiralty numbers are from volume M of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.

General Sources
Lighthouses in Japan - Okinawa
A comprehensive site, although almost entirely in Japanese.
Kiso's Lighthouses
This site has many excellent photos of Japanese lighthouses.
Lighthouse of Japan - Okinawa
This large and expanding site currently has photos and accounts for lighthouses of the Sakishima Islands.
Lighthouses of Okinawa Prefecture
Photos available from Wikimedia.
Milestones of the Sea
Posted by the Eleventh Coast Guard Region office, which is responsible for Okinawa Prefecture, this page has photos of seven Okinawa lighthouses. The office also has interactive maps that link to data pages with smaller photos of all the lights in the region: there are maps for Okinawa, Miyako, and Ishigaki.

Henna Saki Light
Henna Saki Light, Miyakojima, May 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo
by Martin Haesemeyer

Miyako District (Miyakojima) Lighthouses
Hude (Fude) Iwa
1972. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); white flash every 3 s. 11 m (36 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. Google's satellite view has only a blur in this area. Located on an isolate, rocky islet about 15 km (9 mi) northeast of Ikema Shima. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. JCG-7160; Admiralty M4739; NGA 13500.
* Ikema Shima (3)
1963 (station established 1940). Active; focal plane 42 m (138 ft); white flash every 12 s. 26 m (85 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. A photo is at right, Lighthouse-Japan.com has a page with good photos, the Coast Guard has both a page and an aerial photo, Kevin Elliott has a 2011 photo, and Bing has a satellite view. This lighthouse is intended as a landfall light for Miyako Shima for vessels arriving from Okinawa or Japan proper. The original lighthouse was destroyed during World War II. It was replaced by a small emergency light in 1950 and then by the present lighthouse in 1963. Ikema Shima is a small island off the northeastern tip of Miyako Shima, connected to the mainland by a 1.6 km (1 mi) long bridge. Located at the northern end of the island. Accessible by road. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-158; JCG-7167; Admiralty M4738; NGA 13504.
**** Henna Saki (Hennazaki, Agari-Henna Saki, Miyako)
1967. Active; focal plane 43 m (141 ft); flash every 10 s, alternately red and white. 25 m (82 ft) octagonal cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story concrete service building. Entire lighthouse is white. Marton Haesemeyer's photo is at the top of this page, Atsushi Suzuki has a photo, Lighthouse-Japan.com has a page with a portfolio of photos, Wikipedia has a good photo, a more distant view shows the picturesque site, a 2008 photo is available, and Bing has a satellite view. The attached building has been converted into a lighthouse museum and visitor center, which has become one of the principal tourist attractions of Miyakojima. Located on a sharp promontory at the southeastern tip of Miyako Shima, about 20 km (13 mi) southeast of Hirara. Accessible by road. Site open, museum open and tower open for climbing but we do not know the schedule. ARLHS JPN-105; JCG-7169; Admiralty M4737; NGA 13516.
* [Hirara Kō North Breakwater]
1997. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); two red flashes every 7 s. 7 m (23 ft) fiberglass post surrounded by an octagonal pavilion with benches and a small observation platform. The light tower is red; the pavilion is unpainted gray concrete with a red tile roof. Bing has a satellite view. Lighthouse-Japan.com has a 2009 photo that shows the pavilion being rebuilt. Located at the end of the west breakwater of Makoto Kō, the harbor of Hirara, the largest town of Miyako Shima, on the west side of the island. Site open, tower closed. JCG-7180.55.
Hirara (Taira) Kō
1992. Active; focal plane 8.5 m (28 ft); red flash every 4 s. 8 m (26 ft) concrete post attached to a square 1-story concrete equipment room. Entire lighthouse is red. Lighthouse-Japan.com has a page with photos, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the northwest end of a detached breakwater off Hirara. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. JCG-7180.52.
Ikema Shima Light
Ikema Shima Light, Miyakojima, June 2008
Panoramio photo
copyright mskz; permission requested
Sarahama Kō
1989. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); two red flashes every 6 s. 9.5 m (31 ft) concrete post centered on a square 1-story concrete equipment shelter. Entire lighthouse is red. The Coast Guard also has a page for the lighthouse, and Google has a satellite view. Sarahama is a port at the east end of Irabu Shima, a smaller island just west of Miyako Shima. Located at the south end of the detached main breakwater of Sarahama. Accessible only by boat, but there are good views from ferries arriving from Hirara on Miyako Shima. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-2619; JCG-7180.8; Admiralty M4737.8; NGA 13512.
Miyako Minna Shima
1972. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); white flash every 4 s. 13 m (43 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower mounted on a large concrete base. Entire lighthouse is white. A 2009 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse is built on a small island about halfway between Miyako and Ishigaki. Located at the southeastern tip of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-2611; JCG-7187; Admiralty M4736; NGA 13524.

Ishigaki City Lighthouses
Note: Ishigaki Shima is an island at the eastern end of the Yaeyama Islands. Organized as a city, Ishigaki has a population of about 50,000 and is readily accessible by air.
Ishigaki Kō (West Outer Breakwater)
1986. Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); two green flashes every 8 s. 16 m (52 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. Lighthouse-Japan.com has a page with a good photo, a 2012 photo is available, the Coast Guard also has a page for the lighthouse, and Google has a distant satellite view. Located at the northwest end of the detached outer breakwater of Ishigaki, on the southwest side of Ishigaki Shima. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-179(=2601); JCG-7192.5; Admiralty M4734.4; NGA 13548.
Ishigaki Kō (North Breakwater)
1981. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); green flash every 3 s. 9.5 m (31 ft) concrete post attached to a square 1-story concrete equipment shelter. Entire lighthouse is white. The Coast Guard also has a page for the lighthouse, Chih Yen Lin has a view from the sea, and Google has a distant satellite view. Located at the south end of the original north breakwater of Ishigaki. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS JPN-2603; JCG-7193; Admiralty M4734.3; NGA 13544.
* Kannon Saki (Ryūkyū Kannon Saki)
1953 (built by the U.S. military administration). Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 11 m (36 ft) square cylindrical concrete tower with gallery, attached to a 2-story concrete equipment building. Entire lighthouse is white. Lighthouse-Japan.com has a page with good photos, the Coast Guard also has a page for the lighthouse, Wikimedia has photos, a sunset photo is available, and Bing has a distant satellite view. Located at the southwestern tip of Ishigaki Shima, about 8 km (5 mi) northwest of Ishigaki city. Accessible by road. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-515; JCG-7192; Admiralty M4732; NGA 13536.
* Ogan Saki (Ogan Misaki)
1983. Active; focal plane 62 m (103 ft); white flash every 10 s. 17 m (56 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 1-story concrete equipment building. Entire lighthouse is white. A photo is at right, Janine Kelly has another good photo, Lighthouse-Japan.com has a page with good photos, the Coast Guard has a page for the lighthouse, a distant view and a view from the sea are available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the northwestern tip of Ishigaki Shima. Accessible by road. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-774; JCG-7191; Admiralty M4733; NGA 13532.
* Hirakubo Saki
1972. Active; focal plane 74 m (243 ft); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 13 m (43 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. Lighthouse-Japan.com has a page with good photos, a good 2007 photo is available, Wikipedia has a photo, Hiroaki Kanematsu has a 2008 photo, and Google has a satellite view. This light marks the northern tip of Ishigaki Shima, at the end of 40 km (25 mi) long rocky ridge -- the name of the island means "Stone Wall Island" in Japanese. The Coast Guard's aerial photo illustrates the nature of the site, which is famous for its spectacular view of the East China Sea. Accessible by road. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-123; JCG-7190; Admiralty M4734; NGA 13528.
Ogan Saki Light
Ogan Saki Light, Ishigaki, April 2006
Flickr Creative Commons photo by mokomoko663

Yaeyama District Lighthouses
Note: The Yaeyama District includes the large island of Iriomote and a number of smaller islands. Among the smaller islands is Yonaguni, the westernmost island of Japan.
Kuro Shima
1972. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); white flash every 5 s. 11 m (36 ft) concrete post attached to a 1-story concrete equipment room. Entire lighthouse is white. A photo is available, the Coast Guard has a page for the lighthouse, Lighthouses of Japan has a distant view, and Bing has a distant satellite view. Kuro Shima is a small island about 20 km (13 mi) southwest of Ishigaki. The island is included in the Iriomote National Park. Located on the south (seaward) side of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. JCG-7224.
* Hatoma Shima (Hatoma-jima)
1972. Active; focal plane 47 m (154 ft); white light, 4 s on, 4 s off. 16 m (52 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. Kazunori Seki has a 2009 closeup, another closeup is available, the Coast Guard has a page for the light, Lighthouses of Japan has a distant view, and Bing has a distant satellite view. Hatoma Shima is a small island about 6 km (3.5 mi) north of the northern tip of Iriomote Shima. Located on the highest point of the island. The island is accessible by ferry from Iriomote Shima. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-092; JCG-7238; Admiralty M4730; NGA 13560.
* Hateruma Shima (2)
1986 (station established 1959). Active; focal plane 70 m (230 ft); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 16 m (52 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. A photo is at right, Maxime Grenu has an excellent closeup, a 2008 closeup and a wider view are available, Lighthouse-Japan.com has a page with good photos, Wikimedia has photos, and Google has a satellite view. This is Japan's southernmost lighthouse. Hateruma Shima is an island about 25 km (15 mi) due south of Iriomote Shima; the island has several popular resorts and permanent population of about 600. NGA misspells the name as "Haterumia." Located at the highest point of the island. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-089; JCG-7250; Admiralty M4735; NGA 13568.
Hateruma Shima Light
Hateruma Shima Light, Taketomi, March 2012
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by QBhouse100
Funauki Kō
1969. Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); white flash every 6 s. 11 m (36 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower attached to a 1-story equipment building. Entire lighthouse is white. The Coast Guard has a page for the lighthouse, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a promontory on the rugged northwestern coast of Iriomote. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-2597; JCG-7249; Admiralty M4731; NGA 13564.
* Agari Saki (Yonaguni Shima, Yonaguni-jima)
1972. Active; focal plane 84 m (276 ft); white flash every 8 s. 10 m (33 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with double gallery. Entire lighthouse is white. Lighthouse-Japan.com has a page with good photos, the Coast Guard has a page for the lighthouse, a 2007 closeup is available, and Google has a satellite view. Yonaguni Shima is the westernmost island of the Nansei chain, only 130 km (80 mi) east of Taiwan. Located on the eastern tip of the island. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-003; JCG-7251; Admiralty M4728.4; NGA 13576.
* Iri (Irii) Saki (2)
1980 (station established 1957). Active; focal plane 75 m (246 ft); white flash every 5 s. 20 m (66 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, rising from a 1-story concrete equipment building. Entire lighthouse is white. A photo is at right, Lighthouse-Japan.com has a page with good photos, a closeup photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. This is Japan's westernmost lighthouse. Located at the western tip of Yonaguni Shima. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-175; JCG-7252; Admiralty M4728; NGA 13580.
* Kubura Kō
1993. Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); green flash every 3 s. 10 m (33 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with a flared top, attached to a small 1-story concrete equipment shelter. Entire lighthouse is white. The Coast Guard has a page for the lighthouse, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the breakwater of Kubara, a port just to the north of Iri Saki. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS JPN-2626; JCG-7254; Admiralty M4728.3; NGA 13586.

Senkaku Islands Lighthouse
Note: The Senkaku Islands are a small group located in the East China Sea 170 km (110 mi) north of Ishigaki and a similar distance northeast of Taiwan. The islands are the subject of an acrimonious dispute between Japan, China, and Taiwan, with all three countries claiming sovereignty. (China calls the group the Diaoyu Islands.) Japan administers the islands as part of Ishigaki City, but to avoid exacerbating the dispute the central government has prohibited development of the five islands. In September 2012, the government purchased three of the islands from private owners.
Uotsuri Shima (Uotsurijima)
1978. Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); white flash every 5 s. 6 m (20 ft) square skeletal tower, painted white. A photo is available, and Google has a distant satellite view. The lighthouse was built by the nationalist group Nihonseinensha without permission from the government, but in 2005 it was accepted by the Japanese Coast Guard as an official light. Located at the western tip of Uotsuri Shima (known as Diaoyu Dao in China), the largest and westernmost island of the group. Site and tower closed. JCG-7300; Admiralty M4727.
Iri Saki Light
Iri Saki Light, Yonaguni, July 2006
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Metatron

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: Northeast: Okinawa Islands | West: Northeastern Taiwan

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Posted August 27, 2007. Checked and revised April 8, 2013. Lighthouses: 20. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.